Butterflies and wildflowers grow where furnaces once belched flame and smoke


Wander around historic Wilsontown

Attractive woodland and grassland clothe the banks of the Moosewater Burn today. But they were once covered with smoking furnaces and noisy coalmines: Wilsontown Ironworks was one of the most important sites of Scotland’s Industrial Revolution.

Along the burnside there’s an exciting landscape of rocky outcrops, knolls and hollows, and the woodland is home to birds, butterflies and wildflowers. Illustrated panels along the trails and our guide to the Wilsontown Ironworks (PDF 7.4MB) [please note large file size] bring the bustling industrial past to life.

You can read more about Wilsontown Ironworks on our Heritage webpages.


  • Please note, livestock are now on site. Dogs can worry animals and some farm animals can also just take a dislike to dogs. Please keep your dog at heel.

Parking Picnic area Walking

Life’s essentials

There are shops, places to eat and public toilets in Forth village, about ½ mile (800 metres) away.

Walking trails

Cycling trails

Mountain biking trails

Metal pioneers

Brothers Robert, John and William Wilson started an ironworks here in 1779. It was only the second works in Scotland to use coke, a new super-fuel that made it far more productive than the old charcoal-fired foundries. The land around was honeycombed with simple mines called bell pits to supply the ironstone.

A village of over 2,000 people grew up around the Wilsons’ business, attracting people from all over the United Kingdom to work in the noisy foundries. Coal mining, iron-making and the workers’ village were all squeezed together into the small valley, making Wilsontown one of the most unusual and interesting industrial sites in Scotland’s history.

Major breakthroughs that revolutionised iron-making were developed at Wilsontown before the works closed in 1842. A colliery continued mining coal nearby until 1955. Today there are few signs of all that heavy industry: the old buildings were unsafe and had to be demolished, leaving flowers and trees to cover the ground.

Contact: Scottish Lowlands Forest District

Address: Five Sisters House, Five Sisters Business Park, West Calder

Postcode: EH55 8PN

Telephone: 0300 067 6700


How to get here

Turn off the A706 between Whitburn and Lanark just north of the village of Forth onto the B7016, signposted for Wilsontown. Bear left immediately afterwards and the car park is on the right, with a sign saying ‘The Glen’. The grid reference is NS 949 548.

Using SatNav?

ML11 8ER is the nearest postcode.

Public transport

Buses go to the village of Forth, about ½ mile (800 metres) away. Check Traveline Scotland for details.

Nearby places

You’ll find more trails to explore at West Forth, and good forest trails for walking, cycling or horse riding at Fauldhouse.

Share your experience

For questions and complaints, please contact us directly.